Best liquor stores
Whether you consider yourself an expert in liquor or don't know the difference between bourbon and rye, you will be well taken care of (and not judged) at this Edgewater liquor and wine shop. Don't miss the extensive selection of bitters and local spirits—the shop specializes in small batch varieties including amaros and bitters and other liquors you'll have a hard time finding other places.
At this borderline big box, you won’t always get five-star service, but you will get a ridonkulous selection of beer, wine and spirits—not to mention classes, tastings and samples. It’s the Costco model and we can’t complain. Neither can our Midwest relatives who are known to drive six hours just to stock their liquor cabinets. Bonus for the Orthodox set: Binny’s boasts a sizable selection of kosher booze.
Although this Brighton Park go-to is known as "the tequila oasis," don't be fooled—you can find just about anything you're looking for at this family-owned store. After taking the reins of the family shop in the '90s, owners Pete and Vicki Douvlis have recently expanded to include a craft beer selection (more than 420 bottles) that will please even the pickiest of beer snobs. If you're more into the hard stuff, you'll find plenty of craft bourbon labels, tequila and much more. This place has already developed an underground following of bartenders and restaurateurs, but consider the cat officially out of the bag.
Right next door to the Fountainhead bar and restaurant is the Fountainhead Marketplace where you can grab many of the same delicious sandwiches and craft brews. In addition to a daily lunch special, the market will sell specialty spirits and wine.
This Wicker Park neighborhood "brewtique" opened in place of "Life's a Cabernet" after it was officially taken over by employee and sommelier Janel Syron. The liquor store has a wide selection craft beers (including plenty of local brews), wine (most bottles around $20 or less), as well as craft spirits, making it the perfect pre-BYOB date night pit-stop.
If you’re not familiar with the glorious convenience of “the slashie” (a.k.a. liquor store/bar), this old-man haunt is a good introduction. Sure, it looks like your average corner store: cases of beer, liquor and cheap wine surround retail shelves stocked with junk food in a fluorescent-lit room. But wander toward the dimly lit back of the store and you’ll find yourself in bar country wondering whether you should have a couple before heading home with a fresh six-pack.
Crown Liquors is a liquor store, dive bar and clubhouse all in one. The classic slashie sells a wide selection of craft beer and liquor on one side while bartenders serve up affordable drinks on the other.
With coolers in back and rows of bottles up front—and perhaps, as on our visit, a staffer perched atop a pile of boxes, chowing down on his lunch—this liquor shop has a standard setup and a casual feel. The store specializes, of course, in Asian liquors, and the wine selection is peppered with lychee liquor, Chinese wine and sparkling pink sake. Perhaps more hard-to-find still: Hello Kitty sparkling rose wine.